Anti-terrorist operation in the Donbass will end in late April with launch of the new format under the leadership of the Joint Forces. Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak stated this in an interview with BBC.
"On April 30, we complete ATO and move to the operation by the United Forces led by the commander and Joint Staff", - he said.
According to him, the ministry has already prepared "bodies of military administration that will carry out tasks in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts".
The training was conducted, and literally during the conversation with you (the interview was recorded on April 21 – ed.), the deployment of bodies of military administration, the replacement of units and the restructuring of military units and their replacement are being carried out", - the minister said.
The new operation will be led by the commander of the Joint Forces. According to Poltorak, Serhiy Nayev, appointed to this position, will manage the training and leadership of all the defence forces – not only of the AFU, but also of the SBU, the police, the National Guard and border guards.
His main task is "to free the territory from occupants and protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine".
Poltorak could not name the exact number of Ukrainian forces in the Donbass, noting that everything will depend on the situation. "If at the first stage, this is an operation to stabilize the situation, then, in my opinion, the amount that is available today will be enough. If the situation becomes more complicated or a decision to free the territory is made, then, of course, the number of personnel will need to be increased", - Poltorak said.
He also predicts that the life of civilians in the conflict zone will change for the better.
"They will clearly understand who the decisions depend on, they will clearly understand that there is a chain of command of these territories and I think that these people's life will be easier", - Poltorak summed up.
As previously reported, on January 18, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the bill on the reintegration of Donbass in its second reading and as a whole. On February 20, the president signed the law, and on February 26, it came into effect.